Guide to responding to planning appeals by written representations

The planning application and appeal process
Planning applications are made to the local planning authority (LPA). Appeals may be made for a number of reasons, but most are made because the LPA have refused planning permission. Appeals are made to the Planning Inspectorate. Nearly all appeals are decided by Planning Inspectorate Inspectors, a very small percentage are decided by Government Ministers – these tend to be for very large or contentious proposals.

Effective community involvement is a key element of planning during the planning appraisal process. During the planning application process local communities should have been given the opportunity to comment on the development proposals which are the subject of an appeal and members of the public would have been welcome to give their views. If you had an interest in an application, whether you were for or against it, you almost certainly will be interested in the outcome of any appeal. This guide explains how you can make your views known.

Who can appeal?
Only the person who made the planning application has the right to appeal. The Planning Inspectorate must receive all their appeal papers within six months of the LPA’s decision notice, or within six months of the end of the LPA decision period if the LPA have not made a decision.

How you find out about the appeal
If you wrote to the LPA about the planning application, they should write to tell you about the appeal within two weeks of us starting it.

The written procedure
Most planning appeals are decided by the written representations method. With this method of appeal, the Inspector considers written evidence from the appellant, the LPA and anyone else who, like you, has an interest in the appeal. The site is also likely to be inspected.

The Planning Inspectorate cannot accept any form of recorded evidence, as they cannot be sure that everyone involved has exactly the same version.

What you can do
The LPA will send copies of any letters of support or objection they received about the planning application while considering it. These will be fully considered by the Inspector who decides the appeal.

If you did not write at application stage, or you did write and now have something new to say, you can send us your comments.

You can submit your comments on line through the Planning Portal using the Planning Casework Service, or you can write to the Planning Inspectorate or email them. The LPA should have told you the Case Officer’s contact details.

If you send your comments in a letter, if possible, please send three copies of it. The Planning Inspectorate will not acknowledge your letter unless you ask it to.

You must make sure that the Planning Inspectorate receives your comments within six weeks of the starting date for the appeal. The deadline date is Friday 8th April 2016.

Copies of your comments will be sent to the appellant, the LPA and the Inspector.

The time limit for sending comments to the Planning Inspectorate is important, and everyone taking part in an appeal must follow it. If you send comments after the end of the time limit, the Planning Inspectorate will not normally accept them. Instead they will return them to you. This means that the Inspector will not take them into account.

If you would like a copy of the appeal decision you must ask the Planning Inspectorate to send you one.

The site inspection
An inspection of the appeal site is normally carried out before a decision is made. If enough of the site can be seen from the road or a public viewpoint, the site will be inspected without anyone else being present. This is known as an unaccompanied site inspection.

Sometimes, where access to private land is deemed necessary, an Access Required Site Visit (ARSV) will be arranged. This approach involves the Inspector being allowed onto/into the appeal site or neighbouring land (as applicable) by its owner or representative.

There is normally no need for other people to attend the site inspection. However, if you own a property nearby and consider that the appeal site needs to be viewed from your property, you should tell the Planning Inspectorate this when you write to them. If the site inspection is to be an Access Required one they will let you know the date and time.

If it is decided that the site needs to be viewed from your property, your presence is required simply to allow the Inspector access to view the appeal site from your property.

As everyone concerned has to make their case in writing only, no discussion is allowed on the merits of the case during a site inspection.

The decision
When made, the decision will be published on the Planning Portal and can be viewed at

The Planning Inspectorate will send a copy of the decision to:

  • the appellant;
  • the LPA; and
  • anyone else who asked for a copy.

The High Court
An appeal decision can only be challenged on legal grounds in the High Court. To be successful, you would have to show that:

  • the Inspector had gone beyond his or her powers; or
  • the Planning Inspectorate did not follow the proper procedures and so damaged your interests.

If your challenge is successful, the High Court will overturn the original decision and return the case to the Planning Inspectorate, and they will look at it again. This does not necessarily mean that the original decision will be reversed.

If you decide to challenge the decision, you must apply to the High Court within six weeks of the date of the decision. If you ask for a copy of the decision, when the Planning Inspectorate sends it to you they will enclose a leaflet explaining your right to challenge the decision.

Timetable for the written procedure

Appeal made (within the 6-month time limit)

Planning Inspectorate sets the start date

(Does not apply)Sends the appeal form and all supporting documents to us and the LPA. The grounds of appeal should make up their full caseReceive the appeal documents
Within 2 weeks from the start dateReceive the LPA’s letter about the appeal, telling you that you must send us any comments within six weeks from the start dateReceives a completed questionnaire and any supporting documents from the LPASend the appellant and us a completed questionnaire and supporting documents. They write to you about the appeal
Within 6 weeks from the start date

(We will not normally accept late statements or comments)

Send your comments to us. If you want a copy of the Inspector’s decision you must ask for one in writingSends us any further statement. This should relate only to issues raised by the questionnaire and any supporting documentsSend us any further statement
Within 9 weeks from the start dateCannot make more written comments at this stageSends us their final comments on the LPA’s statement and on any comments from you

No new evidence is allowed

Send us their final comments on the appellant’s statement and on any comments from you

No new evidence is allowed

What is considered?
Sustainable development is the core principle under-pinning planning … allegedly! At the heart of sustainable development is the simple idea of ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, now and for future generations.

The purpose of planning is to ensure that decisions about development take into account the public interest. It does not exist to protect the purely private interests of one person against the activities of another. Neither is it intended to deal with matters covered by other legislation e.g. boundary disputes – which are covered by property law.

Planning issues can be wide-ranging, for example including the need to reduce travel by private car, promote the development of renewable energy resources, and take climate change impacts into account in the location and design of development. The LPA’s reasons for refusing a planning application will usually set out the issues that apply.

The Inspector can only consider things that are relevant to planning, for example, the fact that a proposed new building may directly overlook someone’s garden thereby harming the enjoyment of that personal space or it may need a new access in a location that would be dangerous to road safety.

You can only raise planning issues about the proposal.

If the Planning Inspectorate considers your comments contain libellous, racist or abusive comments, they will send them back to you before the Inspector or anyone else sees it. If you take out the libellous, racist or abusive comments, you can send your comments back to the Planning Inspectorate. But, you must send them back before the time limit ends.

Template for sending your comments
We recommend that you use this layout when sending your comments about an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. Unless your handwriting is very clear it would help if you are able to have your comments typed. Please use black ink.

  1. Your name and address, and any other personal details on a separate sheet of paper
  2. The Planning Inspectorate appeal reference number (this will start APP/…)
  3. The address of the appeal site.
  4. ‘I am against the appeal proposals’ or ‘I support the appeal proposals’.
  5. Your comments. If you are against, say whether it is for the same reasons as given by the LPA or, if not, explain your own reasons. Or, say why you support the appeal proposals.
  6. Say if you would like the Planning Inspectorate to send you a copy of the decision notice.
  7. Alternatively, you may wish to make your comments online via the Planning portal
  8. If you decide to submit documents to support your comments … documents in a sans serif font are easier to read. Please use a font such as Arial or Verdana in a size of 11 point or larger.


  • use A4 paper wherever possible;
  • number the pages of the documents;
  • make sure photocopied documents are clear and legible;
  • put any photographs (colour if possible), maps, plans, etc, in a separate appendix and cross-reference them within the main body of the document;
  • bind documents so that they can be undone quickly without damaging the document. Do not use wire or plastic spiral binders;
  • do not use cover sheets, sleeves or other bindings that do not add value or information;
  • do not send original documents unless the Planning Inspectorate specifically asks for them;
  • do not include self adhesive notes or small attachments which might be dislodged easily or lost;
  • print documents on both sides of a page. You should use paper of good enough quality that something printed on one side of the page does not show through to the other side;
  • ensure that the scale, orientation and paper size of any maps and plans are shown clearly. This is especially important if you submit your comments electronically through the Planning Casework Service.

How the Planning Inspectorate uses your personal information
The Inspectorate receives personal data from the appellant, LPA and other interested persons who provide representations. The personal data normally includes name and contact details and any other personal data included within their representations.

The Planning Inspectorate copies the representations they receive to the appellant, the LPA and any other statutory appeal parties. Representations will also be open for inspection at the LPA where anyone can ask to view them.

The Planning Inspectorate publishes appeal documents and representations, including names and addresses, on the Planning Portal. They also publish the Inspector’s decision.

Further information
Further information about the Planning Inspectorate’s privacy policy is on the Planning Portal at or on request.

If you have any queries about the privacy policy, or wish to request your personal data, then please contact the Planning Inspectorate at the address below.

The Planning Inspectorate
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay
Helpline: 0303 444 5000